This year’s FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX at Silverstone will be a landmark occasion in the circuit’s illustrious history. 2014 will see the 50th British Grand Prix to be held at the famous track (04 – 06 July) since Luigi Villoresi won the first ever event on 02 October 1948, two years before the inauguration of the FIA Formula One World Championship in 1950.
During the Second World War many of Britain’s existing circuit layouts had become unusable, which lead the Royal Automobile Club to take out a one-year lease on the newly-redundant RAF Silverstone airfield site in 1948. The original race track was created using the two longest runways as straights and large sections of the perimeter road, which were narrowed in parts by hay bales to funnel the cars through the corners.
The inaugural 65-lap Royal Automobile Club International Grand Prix, run under the then-new Formula One regulations on the long 3.7-mile (5.9km) circuit in front of 100,000 spectators, was won by Italian Villoresi in a Maserati, with his team-mate Alberto Ascari in second ahead of British driver Bob Gerard.
20 out of the 28 drivers that took part in that first ever race were British and, while an Italian took the honours that day, more British drivers have gone on to win their home race than any other nationality. 12 British drivers have won their home Grand Prix over the years, ten of whom have won at Silverstone. British motor racing legends Peter Collins, Jim Clark, Sir Jackie Stewart, James Hunt, John Watson, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert and David Coulthard have all taken the chequered flag at the Northamptonshire circuit, and Lewis Hamilton – the last British winner in 2008 – will be pushing for victory again in July, with the support of his home crowd at Silverstone.
To commemorate this special milestone in Silverstone’s history, the circuit is organising a number of events for fans attending this year’s British Grand Prix, including a Heritage Village, which will feature displays of memorable moments in the circuit’s history and iconic Formula 1 cars from Silverstone’s 50 British Grands Prix.
Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, said: “2014 is a very special year for Silverstone as it marks the 50th British Grand Prix to be held at the circuit. To commemorate this milestone we are celebrating Silverstone’s rich motor sport history with fantastic displays of F1 cars from eras gone by in a one-off Heritage Village area at the circuit for fans to enjoy.
“The British Grand Prix is the jewel in the crown of British motor sport and one of the most important races on the Formula 1 calendar; the drivers often comment that Silverstone is up there with circuits like Monaco, Monza and Spa as a race they really want to win. 2014 will be extra special with plenty of commemorative events and activities for fans to look forward to, as well as the race itself, which promises to be as exciting as ever as the teams fight to get the most out of their cars under the new regulations.”
Former Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle, commenting about Silverstone and its 50th British Grand Prix at the Autosport International Show, said: “Classic events like Silverstone mean so much. It's a really important race for British F1 drivers. Not having a British Grand Prix would be like not having a Monaco Grand Prix or Monza. It has a massive halo effect on everything we do, including helping to develop young drivers into Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, rally or Le Mans drivers. Look how important the British motor sport industry is to this country; we have this incredible business, history, heritage that is British motor sport, and the British Grand Prix is at the heart of it all.
“Thank goodness we have such amazing fans. The spectators keep the British Grand Prix alive, because we don't have government funding. It is driven by selling tickets.”
1964 Formula 1 World Champion John Surtees, the only person to have won World Championships on both two and four wheels, said at the Autosport Show: “The British Grand Prix and Silverstone have a special place in my heart. I remember going with my father when he was racing a motorcycle and side car just after it stopped being an airfield. Silverstone is special, it's in the right part of the country, it's a superb circuit and I hope the fans continue to support it.”
Further details of Silverstone 50th British Grand Prix celebrations will be announced in due course.
Tickets for the 2014 FORMULA 1® British Grand Prix are on sale 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information call 0844 3728 300.
For official 2014 Formula 1® hospitality enquiries, call 0844 3728 230.